Hanoi's Chilled Out Haven
October 17, 2014
All the fun of a street-side bar transported to a beautiful bamboo beer garden. Katie Jacobs swings by for a swig and some seasonal snacks.
Published on Oct 17, 2014
Em oi, mot bia nua! This phrase, meaning "another beer please," is practically the motto of Hanoi's popular sidewalk beer culture, better known as bia hoi. Every evening these street-side establishments hawk cheap ales and snacks to revelers in tiny plastic chairs thronging the pavement. And though part of the fun is kicking back at the waitress's knee level among discarded peanut shells and all the city bustle, there's a new spot aiming to bring you a tall, frosty glass of upscale serenity without losing the communal vibe. Set in a veggie patch in the heart of West Lake district, BackYard Bia Hoi "is really more of a beer garden than traditional bia hoi: it's a place where people can relax, meet friends and feel nourished," says Pete Wilkes, founder of TET Lifestyle Collection, a boutique hospitality company rooted in responsible tourism.
Pull up a stool and help yourself to a... banana
That nourishment comes tangibly in the form of seasonal drinks and Vietnamese dishes made from ingredients that are locally sourced or grown on the company's private 65-hectare organic farm just outside the capital. "Right now we are offering some great summer noodle salads as well as a mojito of pressed sugar cane juice and fresh pomelo-infused rum," Wilkes says. But BackYard Bia Hoi is also aiming to feed the soul. The hand-hewn seating is accented with textiles created by local minority women who attend the Collection's regular life-skills and handicraft workshops. The tranquil setting, flanked by towering palm trees, includes an outdoor bar as well as a koi pond complete with noisy frogs. In fact, stepping through the bamboo gate entrance and walking past the flickering light of kerosene lamps, patrons get the sense they're entering a lush garden paradise—one in which the temptations include drafts of not just classic Hanoi lager but also microbrewed black stout and honey pilsner. "We wanted to reinvent the bia hoi experience," Wilkes says. "We want to offer more than just a meal; we want there to be a connection." Fused over another beer, of course.
The local noodle salad is a favorite
BackYard Bia Hoi; 15/50 Quang Khanh St., Hanoi, Vietnam; tet-lifestylecollection.com/backyard